How much religion is good?

Door hanging when there is a festival
Door hanging when there is a festival | Source

A friend of mine stays awake till late night to finish all cooking such that she and her family can have stale food the next day. She unhesitatingly tells this to anybody who asks her why she looks tired. Fortunately my friend holds a junior post in office and has therefore not been held responsible for any mistake in the course of work. If we dwell into the tradition, it becomes clear that somebody started this tradition with a view to giving a little rest to women who otherwise slogged at the fire day in and day out. My second friend too is happy with her flow of life. She observes all fasts, rituals, traditions as told by the Guru. We exchange warm smiles when buying vegetables. And so one day when we were at the vegetable shop, she innocently asked me in Marathi, “ Shashthiche Jevan ( Meal for 6th Day?” Clearly I was taken by surprise. 'Shashthi' must have had some significance in the past but not now. " It's good, she is not working," was my reaction as I walked back home. It also made me wonder if she was getting adequate time for her school going children and husband with all the rituals and customs that she was following.

It was certainly not my intention to be cynical. But over the years I have come to believe that you need to be focused on the present to be successful in life- be it marriage, children's upbringing, investment, career or any such thing. And talking to her each time only confirms my worst fears that religion is taking a toll on her present.

Meaningful or meaningless

The so called 'Shashthi Food' must have kept my friend busy in the kitchen for a longer time! She could have well utilized this valuable time for something else.

But for some reasons my friend has opted for this religious style of life. It perhaps means less confrontation with the elders in the family as also less tension. Sadly, she is not visualizing that in years to come she is likely to get distanced her from her children who after being placed well will find it all meaningless.

Indore's famous Rajwada in Madhya Pradesh, India
Indore's famous Rajwada in Madhya Pradesh, India | Source

Indore, religious customs and traditions

Since my husband belongs to Indore, it was natural for us to shift to this sleeping city after he took premature retirement in ’96. Soon we were to discover that the so-called peaceful city was riding high on obsolete religious beliefs and traditions which were sometimes quite irksome.

My husband was the first to encounter this problem in his factory. The female employees would at times fast at a stretch for more than 2-3 days. This happened when apart from their regular fasting day, some other festival would also crop up. And so a woman worker had to be rushed to the hospital after she fainted in the factory. Naturally, my husband paid for her low BP medicines and Drip.

In due course, it also became apparent that ‘Indore is a city of festivals and religious celebrations.’ Death in a family being no exception! On numerous occasions, my husband tried educating his workers not to take loan for Mrityu Bhoj (Feast after death). But no words of wisdom ever worked in the face of religious beliefs and fear of community boycott. The practice continues even today despite Government’s strict stand against it.

Death procession is also a very troubling factor which till today is prevalent in the weaker section of the society- particularly in Indore. It means carrying the dead on a stretcher right up to the crematorium. The stretcher is shouldered by male relatives and friends. This is accompanied by drum beats. It is certainly a frightful sight for small children, pregnant women, sick and weak spirited people walking on the streets at that time. Not to forget the traffic jam it creates! Thankfully, the educated people prefer to use Ambulance or Corporation Van these days to take the dead to the crematorium or burial place. It saves time as well as unnecessary exhaustion. Besides, it does not also interfere with the religious rites.

There have been funny instances too. During one college break, I decided to enroll my daughter for tailoring classes nearby. One day she returned home early. The reason being it was Amavasya (New moon day) and tailors did not do any cutting or stitching on this day. The practice must have been prevalent in olden times when there was no electricity. Slowly it acquired a touch of religion and thus the practice is being continued even today.


City Bus Stop converted in to Kaal Bhairav Temple, Sch. 78, Vijay Nagar, Indore
City Bus Stop converted in to Kaal Bhairav Temple, Sch. 78, Vijay Nagar, Indore

Converting Bus Stop into Temple

Some time ago, the local administration introduced City Bus service on our route. A bus stop was created for public convenience. But it did not work and the buses stopped coming in this area. Some 'creative minds' decided to make the best of it and converted the bus stop into Kaal Bhairav Temple. Local people quite often come and pray here.

This is just one of the examples. Some fanatic local leaders in Indore have even constructed temples in parks that are otherwise meant for recreation, children’s play and good time pass for general public. A small temple has cropped up on a footpath near an electricity transformer in our area. This behavior displays more of indiscipline and fanaticism than religion.

 Mahadev Temple on footpath, Near Electricity Transformer, Sch. 78, Outside Atal Behari Khel Parisar, Indore
Mahadev Temple on footpath, Near Electricity Transformer, Sch. 78, Outside Atal Behari Khel Parisar, Indore

Too much religion hampers alertness

Intelligence is growing in human beings. And it is growing both ways- Good intelligence and Bad Intelligence. Good Intelligence is taking us to new inventions, better life, happiness and security. The Bad Intelligence is resulting in violence, crime against women, children, weak and the aged. It is also responsible for giving rise to intolerance, wickedness, corruption and everything that is causing disruption in the world. And so if we are going to be so immersed in religion, will we be able sense danger and act upon it before it destroys us?

We have to be God Loving

We recently lost a very valuable friend, well-wisher and an eminent doctor- Late Maj. Gen. Saksena. In the course of conversation he once remarked, “We need to be God loving and not God fearing.” Yes indeed! Being God loving will automatically bring forth in us love, empathy, cheerfulness and every thing positive. On the other hand being God fearing is going to constantly keep us edgy, nervous, uncertain and insecure thus driving us towards religious practices that are no longer relevant.

Too much religion needs to be checked

We are all human beings with our own set of fears and trepidation. Religion helps us as it offers hope in the face of adversity. In the form of festivals, religion offers us reasons to rejoice and meet people. We could then say- Religion is remembering God and His teachings. It also means accomplishing our duties well. In which case, anything that increases expenditure beyond limits, takes us away from responsibilities or gives rise to blind faith and morbid fear is excess religion which we need to check. For, such things defy the very concept of God who stands for justice and well-being. Here I also quote Swami Vivekananda who once said," Religion is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man. Religion is the idea which raises the brute unto man, and man unto God."

In all certainty, this is the role of religion and we should not stretch it beyond this.

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Comments 17 comments

Deepak Narayan Dhavalikar 9 months ago

Good. This a very balanced writing. Matter is clear. Permit me to raise other points. (1) How much religion is good? .. Till it does not disturb others.

2) How much medicine is good? .. Let Doctor (God) decide not patient.


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 9 months ago from Indore, India Author

Yes. You are absolutely right. Thank you so much.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 9 months ago from london

I like that last quote, Sulabha. Funny.

A well-balanced Hub and written with much Love. We all follow our Paths. Mine may not be yours and vice versa. All things have their values, and there are those who may need the rituals; the dogmatic approach. In the spiritual life we cannot jump from A to Z. This is a sojourn of many steps, like a ladder, and we are all on different rungs.

I support a lot of your ideas. All we ever have is the Sacrament of the Present Moment; The Eternal Now and it is up to us to make the most of it. Tomorrow is not ours. But not all know this.

Fasting can hurt as you so admirably expressed. This body is the Temple to house the Higher Forces descending, and if it is not well, it's capacity will be reduced.

Vivekananda tried so hard to awaken India! He succeeded to an extent but many old practices still prevail. Growth or inner progress is happening, of course, but perhaps we need more Vivekananda's to speed up the progress.

I like the Love approach of which you speak. Continue to be a shining beacon and strive to serve without expectations. Sri Krishna asks us to do our duty, while offering the results to the Supreme.

I came here partly because you gave me 'best answer' and partly because I feel the Light in you. Wonderful direction to go. Follow people like ms Dora, Surabhi, billybuc, shauna, aviannovice, hari (shprd) I believe, nellieanna, venkatachariM, shaloo swalia, always exploring ...to start. There are a few more...

I welcome you here with all my Love.


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 9 months ago from Indore, India Author

Dear manatita44,

Thank you so much. At my age now I am trying to give back whatever I can to the society, country and to the world. I am not perfect at all. I have learnt from my mistakes and am still learning.

Thanks for your good and encouraging thoughts.


Ramakant 9 months ago

Very much true "We need to be God Loving and not God fearing"


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 9 months ago from Indore, India Author

Thank you, Sir.


Cdr. Varma 9 months ago

Very nice article with a very pregnent subject! Firstly, what is "religion"? As far as I see, Religion is what teaches us to "fear" God. When we say "God is Love", we are talking not Religion but Spritualty. Spirituality is 'understanding'; Religion amount to blindly following 'rituals', as you have rightly brought out. Religion is "business" in the name of God, Spirituality is one's personal business with God.

Now, what is God? That's a totally different discussion!

In the lighter vein, I would have loved to see Cdr. Dhavalikar "teaching" his female employees!!!

Cdr. Varma


Cdr. Varma 9 months ago

Very nice article with a very pregnent subject! Firstly, what is "religion"? As far as I see, Religion is what teaches us to "fear" God. When we say "God is Love", we are talking not Religion but Spritualty. Spirituality is 'understanding'; Religion amount to blindly following 'rituals', as you have rightly brought out. Religion is "business" in the name of God, Spirituality is one's personal business with God.

Now, what is God? That's a totally different discussion!

In the lighter vein, I would have loved to see Cdr. Dhavalikar "teaching" his female employees!!!

Cdr. Varma


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 9 months ago from Indore, India Author

Thank you so much. This is what I like about writing on web. The instant feedbacks takes us on a higher level of understanding and makes us view things better. Thank you again.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 6 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

It is nice reading your work again and seeing the improvements in your style and examples. "Obedience, Love, and Charity" define a religious life. "Moderation in all things" is a valuable concept, too.


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 6 months ago from Indore, India Author

Dear Perspycacious,

Yes. Very true. Obedience, Love and Charity are important and so is Moderation.

Thank you.


firstcookbooklady profile image

firstcookbooklady 4 months ago from Minnesota

Well. Some foods are better when they sit for a day and work their flavors in. Like Casseroles. I almost prefer some foods 'stale' as you put it. Pizza tastes good congealed. We eat a lot of leftovers in our house. Reheats. We do not have a religious reason for doing it, it's just the two of us since the kids have moved out and have homes of their own.


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 4 months ago from Indore, India Author

Nice. A very interesting view.

But, this is something you are doing out of taste and preference. The moment you bring in religion, there comes in fear of punishment, which is not correct.

Sometimes, religion takes such a toll that an individual forgets to enjoy life together with its lovely colors.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 4 months ago from San Diego California

I agree that too much religion, or "churchiness," can be a bad thing. A loving God doesn't require us to be on our knees all day. He understands that we have daily needs we have to go about. In the Christian tradition, Christ came to do away with the laws of Moses, which were onerous and difficult to adhere to. All the same, there are fanatics who are in church every time the door is open, denouncing others who do not do the same. I guess it is the same all around the world. Great hub.


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 3 months ago from Indore, India Author

Dear Mel Carriere,

Yes, there are fanatics all over the world and they are spread all over the world, be it any religion. The need, I suppose, is to do good work in life and rise above them all. That is the only way to check fanaticism.

Thank you so much.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 3 months ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

I am a Christian, and I believe that pure religion - total devotion and faith to God is good even in abundance. But then my belief tells us to have balance in our lives because the Bible states plainly: "...this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

I like what you stated about loving God instead of fearing, because the Bible also says that love is greater than fear: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18.

People can become so spiritual that they are no earthly good as the saying goes. I enjoyed reading about one of the complexities of diverse Indian culture. It seems you have a good head on your shoulders.


Sulabha profile image

Sulabha 3 months ago from Indore, India Author

Dear Alexander Mark,

Thank you. 'Good head on my shoulders'- I like that. I give the credit to my parents who brought me up this way. Rest all has come with good and bad experience.

One thing is sure that no religion teaches us to sit, pray and do no constructive work. Neither does any religion teach us to be fanatics.

Thank you again.

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